Visible Women

From Cynthia Nixon to Gina Martin: the woman making waves this week

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Moya Crockett
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Dropping every Friday, Women Making Waves is a series highlighting the women who rocked the boat, pushed for change and made history around the world this week.

Gina Martin’s anti-upskirting campaign finally results in a law being introduced 

Gina Martin 

A collective roar of “really?!” was heard from UK women last week when it was revealed that Tory MP Christopher Chope had blocked a bill to make upskirting illegal.

While the 71-year-old backbencher insisted that he was in favour of banning upskirting and simply objected to private members’ bills being used to pass laws, that didn’t stop his party colleagues criticising him. Even Prime Minister Theresa May spoke out against Chope, saying she was “disappointed” he had blocked the bill, while Conservative minister Margot James said that he “doesn’t speak for our party”.

Now, less than a week after Chope scuppered the private members’ bill, the government has introduced different legislation to make upskirting a criminal offence. Ministers instead tabled their own version of the Voyeurism (Offences) Bill – which makes upskirting punishable by up to two years in prison – on Thursday (21 June). The bill is expected to become law after a second reading later this summer.

It’s the result of a year-long campaign by Gina Martin, who began looking into the laws around upskirting after a man took a photo under her skirt without her consent in July 2017.

“It feels weird to know I’ve changed the law. It’s all I’ve thought about for a year,” Martin told Sky News. She added: “When it’s on the statue books and we can use it, then I’ll probably cry for about a week.” 

Female football fans in Iran make history 

For years, it has been almost impossible for women to attend sporting events in Iran. While there is no actual law against women entering sports stadiums and arenas, they have generally been denied access since the Islamic revolution of 1979 – and several women have been detained in recent years for trying to attend football matches.

This week, however, female football fans in Iran made history when they attended an event at Tehran’s Azadi stadium for the first time in 37 years.

It was announced on Wednesday morning (20 June) that the ban on women would be relaxed for a screening of Iran’s World Cup match against Spain. However, when women arrived at the stadium, many were initially turned away by security forces claiming that the plan had been cancelled due to “infrastructure issues”.

Fans began to chant in protest and some women staged a sit-in, saying they would not leave until they were allowed in. After Iran’s interior minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli intervened, the women were finally let in an hour before kick-off.

Tayyebeh Siavashi, a reformist MP who has long campaigned for increased gender equality in Iran, posted a photo of herself in the stadium on Twitter (above) and paid tribute to the “collective joy of Iranian men and women”.

New Zealand PM becomes second woman ever to give birth while in office 

Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, gave birth to a daughter on Thursday – making her only the second elected leader in modern history to give birth while in office.

In a statement, Ardern said: “I’m sure we’re going through all of the emotions new parents go through, but at the same time feeling so grateful for all the kindness and best wishes from so many people. Thank you.”

Prior to Ardern, Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was the only head of government to give birth while in office. Bhutto was 37 when she gave birth to her daughter Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari in 1990 – the same age as Ardern is now.

Ardern will take six weeks of maternity leave, with Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters taking on her role during her time off.

However, the politician has said that she will still be consulted on major issues and will continue to read cabinet papers while she is on leave. 

Cynthia Nixon calls for end to US immigration agency  

Cynthia Nixon at a press conference on 18 June 

During an appearance at a church in New York this week, Cynthia Nixon called for the abolishment of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

“ICE has strayed so far from its mission,” said Nixon, who is currently running for governor of New York. “It’s supposed to be here to keep Americans safe, but what it’s turned into is frankly a terrorist organization of its own that is terrorising people who are coming to this country.”

ICE, which was formed in response to September 11, has the power to investigate, arrest, detain and deport illegal immigrants. While it is not a creation of the Trump administration, it has become strongly associated with the current US president’s draconian anti-immigration agenda. After Donald Trump took office, ICE arrests surged by 40%.

Immigrant rights groups have been campaigning against ICE for years, but it is still considered a radical move for a mainstream politician to call for the abolition of the agency. 

As well as calling for the agency to be closed down, Nixon has also pledged to tackle corruption in the New York political system and improve public transport, and has long been an active campaigner on issues including education, women’s healthcare, LGBTQ rights and breast cancer awareness. On Twitter, she reiterated her stance on ICE. 

Women Making Waves is part of Stylist’s Visible Women campaign to raise awareness of women who’ve pushed for change and made a difference. See more Visible Women stories here.  

Images: Getty Images /